Tag Archives: cheese

Camembert Stars

9 Nov

Camembert StarsSo Halloween has come and gone and in my book that means it’s time to start getting excited about Christmas! I adore Christmas and lets face it – what’s not to love?  You get family and friends time, pressie time and most importantly to me FOOD TIME!  But with all those times happening,  the one thing I tend to be quite short on is time itself.  Enter my best friend when it comes to canapés – store bought puff pastry.  I think it’s okay to admit you don’t make your own puff pastry because let’s face it, with the exception of sweaty contestants on the Great British Bake Off, NOBODY makes their own puff pastry.

You can do wonderful things with puff pastry that are super easy and yet still manage to knock the socks off of the people you are feeding.  Take these savoury palmiers or seeing that it is almost the silly season, these melty-cheesey puff pastry stars that only need 4 ingredients.

CS INGTo make twelve stars take:

  • two sheets of puff pastry
  • a camembert round
  • a chutney of your choice (I went for an apple and walnut because it felt quite Christmasy, but cranberry or sweet chilli would also work beautifully.)
  • and an egg.

CS PrepPreheat the oven to 200°C and then dust the surface you are working on with a quick shake of flour and place one sheet of puff pastry on top.

C Egg WashBeat the egg and brush it liberally onto your pastry. Don’t throw the egg wash away -you’ll need it a bit later.

CS CheeseCut your cheese into twelve bite sized chunks. This will only use about half the round of camembert – save the rest for crackers!

CS fillingPlace about half a teaspoon of chutney on your egg washed sheet of pastry and then place a chunk of the cheese on top of that.

CS CuttingPlace the second sheet of pastry on top of the first one.  Then using a star-shaped cookie cutter cut out twelve stars.

CS Wash and toppingPlace your stars on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Use the rest of the egg wash to wash the stars and if you want sprinkle them with some sesame seeds to give them some character.

CS GBD

Bake until golden brown and delicious – about twenty minutes and then bite into the most amazing melted cheesy bit of gooey goodness. ENJOY!

Cheese and Sundried Tomato Palmiers

4 May

pal finished

So when a glorious three day weekend  stretches out in front of you promising to bring with it warm sun drenched days, you know that you need to make the most of it.  By making the most of it I do mean sitting in the garden with potent fruity drinks and scrumptious nibbles with friends and family.  What you don’t want to be doing is spending your whole day in the kitchen making the nibbles and that’s where this recipe will serve you well.  It has an amazingly high return for remarkably little effort. I’ve used a sun-dried tomato pesto, cheese and basil filling, but you really could use almost anything.  I’ve used sausages removed from their casings, you could try it with basil pesto and feta, a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon or jam, and I’m really interested in trying it with lemon curd, but enough of my rambling,  get out there and enjoy that sunshine!

Pal ingTo start take:

  • 1 roll of puff pastry (of course if you make your own it will be delicious, but your effort to enjoyment ratio will be greatly diminished)
  • about half a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 200gm of cheese (I used a mature cheddar, but use whatever takes your fancy)
  • a few basil leaves

Pal pastryLightly dust the surface you are working on with flour and then roll out your pastry to roughly 30m by 40cm-ish.

Pal tomatoeSmear on the sun-dried tomato pesto leaving  a 1 centimetre border around the edges of the pastry.

Palm cheeseTop the tomato with the cheese and the basil.

pal rolledTaking the length of the pastry, roll one half of the pastry to the middle and then repeat with the other side to create something akin to a book scroll. Wrap the (sc)roll in cling film and place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then preheat your  oven to 180°C. pal sliced

Remove the pastry from the fridge and thinly slice into palmiers.  How thick or thin you slice them really does boil down to taste, but I aim for slices that are between 0.5cm to 1 cm thick.

Pal baking trayPlace your pamiers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown!  Enjoy.

Pal baked

Cheese Souffle

12 Sep

Souffles have gotten a really bad rap.  They are supposed to have caused chefs across the land to wail and beat their brows.  They are supposed to have sent the smuggest of Stepford wives to the corner trembling.  They are supposed to have caused even that F-ing Chef to cry like a baby girl.  I just don’t buy it.  Yes, they can come crashing down faster than an Essex girl wearing platforms, but that’s really the only tricky thing about them.   I mean when you get right down to it, all a cheese souffle is, is a simple cheese sauce enriched with eggs and baked.  Hardly rocket science. Come on, I’ll show you.

To make ten individual souffles take:

  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 100gm butter
  • 100gm sharp mature cheddar cheese
  • 375 ml of milk
  • 60 gm of all purpose flour
  • 1tsp mustard
  • 1tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 190°C.  Now melt the butter in a saucepan and use the some of the melted  butter to brush the sides and bottoms of the ramekins.  Some people like to coat the inside of the ramekins with bread crumbs, but I don’t think this is necessary. Then add the flour, mustard and paprika.  Cook the smooth paste for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk a little at a time and then, while constantly stirring, bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, allow it to simmer for a further two minutes, then remove from the heat and add the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted beat in the egg yolks.

Whip the egg whites to a soft stiff peak and then add about 1/6 of the egg white to the cheese sauce.  Mix well to lighten the sauce and then gentely fold in the remaining egg white.

Carefully divide the mixture between the ten ramekins and then run your finger along the inside rim of each souffle.  Pop into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until poofed  up and golden, but with a slight wobble to the middle.

Serve with a crispy salad to contrast the texture of the soft souffle.  See, seriously easy.

Cheese Scones

5 Aug

 I like simple recipes when it comes to breakfast.   Before coffee I’m not really able to give a complicated dish the attention it deserves.  Heck, I’m not able to give anything the attention it deserves without caffeine.  So uncomplicated wins hands down every time, besides there is nothing more satisfying than taking six or seven ingredients and turning them into something that makes your mouth water, even in an un-caffeinated state.  The BH’s family traditionally serve cheese scones as a weekend breakfast.  A tradition I am more than happy to get behind.  They take no time at all to make while still filling the house with the smell of baking.   Now I suppose if we lived on the American side of the pond, these would be called biscuits, but I prefer the term scone.

To start take:

  • 250 gms of self-raising flour
  • 120gm of butter
  • 100gm of cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs of milk
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of dried mixed herbs

Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.   Weigh out the flour and then add to a mixing bowl.  I know I didn’t need to photograph this, but the BH bought me an AWESOME  new scale and I wanted to show it off.

Add the butter to the flour and then mix using your hands until they resemble bread crumbs.

Add the cheese, paprika and herbs to the bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined.

Beat ONE  of the eggs and the milk together and then mix into the dry ingredients to form a sticky dough.

Place the dough on a well floured surface and flatten until about two and half centimetres thick.  Then cut out rounds of dough.  Place the scones on a baking tray and then beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the scones with it.

Place in the oven and bake for about  12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with some fruit juice for a simple, awesomely tasty brunch!

 

 

Tomato Pasta

30 Apr

At least once a year I manage to fool myself into buying a jar of pasta sauce.  Usually when I’m pressed for time.  I’ll pick up a jar and fall prey to descriptions of juicy tomatoes and fresh basil and before I know it the jar has been popped into my basket.  Then, when it comes time to use it, I’m always hugely disappointed.  The flavours never really come through.  I think the reason this upsets me is that I know how easy it is to whip up an amazing sauce  in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

If I’m really in a rush, I will literally just roast tomatoes and garlic together and then blend them with some aged Pecorino and some fresh basil.   If I have a little more time on my hands, I make this sauce.

To start, take:

  • 6-8 small ripe tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 50 gms of a hard, sharp cheese like Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 Tbs of tomato puree
  • olive oil
  • a splash of white wine or white wine vinegar
  • fresh basil to taste
  • coarse salt

Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters and place, with the garlic cloves, skins still on,  on a baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and then roast at 200°C for about 20-30 mins.

Pour a good glug of olive oil into a medium pot and bring to a low heat.  Then add the finely sliced onion and allow it to cook slowly for about 20 mins until just starting to caramelize.  Now would also be a good time to start bringing a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta.

Dice the carrot and celery as finely as you can and add to the just starting to caramelize onion and allow to cook for a further 5 mins.

While the carrot and celery are cooking, remove the roasting tin with the garlic and the tomatoes from the oven.  Once the garlic cloves have cooled slightly, grab them from the base and squeeze the garlic out of it’s skin.  Add this and the tomatoes to the onion, carrot, celery mix.  Don’t be alarmed at the number of garlic cloves.  They will have softened in flavour during roasting.

Now add the wine and tomato puree to the mix and leave it to cook for another 10 – 15 mins, until it resembles the picture above.

Add the basil and cheese to your blender and then top with the tomato sauce.  Whiz them together until smooth.

Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions and then drain the pasta in a colander and put back into the pot it was cooked in.  Top with the tomato sauce and serve with some crunchy garlic bread.  Simple and seriously tasty!

Tear and Share Bread

4 Mar

There is something wonderfully decadent about weekend breakfasts. Especially when the day is grey and rainy and you have a full day of nothing to do stretching out in front of you. If you’re like me though, you’ve probably had your fill of full English fry ups. Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon just as much, if not more, than the next born again carnivore, but sometimes I want something a little less greasy. I also want something a little more satisfying and indulgent than muesli and this bread is the perfect balance between the two.

This is definitely a lazy morning breakfast, if you’re rushing to get somewhere it might not be the breakfast for you. It doesn’t require much work on your part, but it does need 40 minutes or so to rise and about 20 minutes to bake.

Again this is one of those wonderful recipes where you can adjust it to suit your own tastes and use whatever you have to hand. Start with

  • 1 quantity of your favourite bread dough (bought, made up from a packet or from scratch)
  • 60gm of butter
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 2 Tbs of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of toasted walnuts
  • 2 tsps of vanilla essence

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the vanilla essence. Roll the dough into a rough rectangle and then brush on the butter, leaving a space of about two centimeters on one of the long sides of the rectangle . Sprinkle on the sugar, the cinnamon and the walnuts.

Then starting on the side where the butter is brushed to the edge, roll the dough into a long cigar shape finishing on the side where you left the space.

Using a sharp knife dusted in flour cut the cigar into seven or eight equal pieces and place in a pie or spring form tin.

Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes. This is usually where I take the dog for a walk while the BH serenades me with sonorous snoring from the bedroom.

Once the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to about 220ºC and bake the bread for about 20 minutes.

Once the bread is baked, leave to cool for about 10 minutes then tear off a hunk and serve hot with coffee and orange juice.

Now while breakfast is all very well this also makes a great alternative to dinner party rolls. It also works as side at a BBQ (Braai) and as tea bread. All you have to do is juggle up the dough you use and filling.  In this one, I spread a layer of sun-dried tomato pesto on wholemeal dough and topped it with cheese and fresh basil. On other occasions I peal, core and chop 2-3 apples and then soften them with some butter and vanilla essence in a saucepan on medium heat for about 10 mins and then puree.  Spread this puree on the bread and sprinkle on some cinnamon.  Sprinkle the top of the rolls with sugar before baking and enjoy.  The possibilities are endless.

The Greatest Sandwich EVER!

12 Feb

The BH and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day.  Why spend a fortune telling someone you love them on Valentine’s day, when you really should be doing it everyday?  OK, maybe not everyday, but at least more than once a year.  That said, it’s also important to spoil them around this time of year, so last night I offered to make him anything he wanted from the kitchen as his gift.  You can imagine how floored I was when he opted for a sandwich, and not just any sandwich, but a VEGETARIAN  sandwich.

Most people find it hard to believe that the BH and I were vegetarians for over ten years.  We just don’t fit the pale, skinny and interesting look most people associate with vegetarians, which probably has something to do with my love for cooking with cream and butter.

It was during the Vegetarian Years that we went looking for a sandwich that would satisfy the burger craving.  Had we been in the West with ready access to quorn, we might never have discovered it. Even though we are now hardened carnivores with all the meat-eating zeal of the reformed, we still enjoy this at least once a month.  I hope you do too.

There are no exact measures on this one, so go with your gut and eyeball it, to mix metaphors.

You’ll need:

  • Aubergine/Eggplant (depending on which side of the pond you live)
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Cheese (the meltier, the better)
  • Bread
  • Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

First chop the garlic as finely as possible, pour the olive oil in a cup or ramekin and allow it to infuse for about 15 min

Preheat the oven to 200 ° C.  Slice the aubergine in 1cm thick slices an place on an oiled baking tray. Brush with the garlic infused oil making sure at least one piece of garlic finishes up on a piece of aubergine.   In Taiwan I used to use Japanese eggplant which are longer, thinner and less bitter than the aubergines found here, but with the advances we’ve made in food cultivation,  I don’t think it’s necessary to peal, salt or soak, this vegetable.  Tear up the rosemary and scatter about the tray.

Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until they are soft and golden brown.

Slice open the bread and spread the SDT pesto on the bottom and then top with as much cheese as you can.  Place the hot from the oven aubergine on top of the cheese and close the sandwich and leave for 3-4 mins so the aubergine melts the cheese.

Serve with potato wedges and a green salad.

For the potato wedges, mix canola oil (or any other oil that has a high smoke point and a mild flavour) in a large bowl with a tsp of smoked paprika, pinch of salt and a tsp of dried thyme.  Cut your potatoes into wedges and toss in the oil.  Bake at 200° C for 30-40mins, until soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

oh.four.one.

the port elizabeth blogger

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